Are Unions Part of the Jobs Problem?

Trade unions are always proclaiming their mission is to save and create U.S. jobs. But if you have been paying attention to their actions, you would be hard pressed to see this philosophy in action. Jobs aren’t being created by unions — the opposite is occurring. That may explain why union membership has dropped to 6.6 percent of all workers, down from 35 percent in the mid-1950s.

Even as the United States engages in important negotiations involving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC), which could create millions of good-paying American jobs, the left, in a further appeasement of union demands, is trying to derail the U.S. role in the agreement.

As a reminder, according to data from APEC, its members — including the United States and China, Russia, Mexico, Canada and 16 other countries — account for approximately 40 percent of the world’s population, 55 percent of global gross domestic product and about 44 percent of world trade. Trade within APEC has grown nearly sevenfold since 1989, topping $11 trillion in 2011.

According to a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece relating to the APEC negotiations: “The revolt on the left is led by House Democrats Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and George Miller of California, who are close friends with Big Labor. They’ve collected more than 150 Democratic signatures on a letter warning that they’ll oppose ‘fast track’ Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy.”

It is this narrow thinking in relation to exporting that is costing about 2 million good-paying jobs each year. And yet we have big labor and leftist Democrats impeding the job creation this country so desperately needs. They continue to blindly repeat their tired and false mantra that global trade cost jobs.

If you want more proof about union interference in job creation, Boeing machinists in Seattle (members of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers) recently voted down a contract that would guarantee 20,000 jobs. Instead they opted to maintain a bloated pension system.

“Local machinist president Tom Wroblewski responded by saying that this risk (to jobs) is worth taking to preserve the union’s ‘sacred’ traditional pension, though a pension won’t account much if workers lose their jobs,” according to The Journal.

The story goes on to report that in exchange for freezing traditional defined benefit plans, Boeing would replace them with 401(k) accounts that the company would match. The union turned it down, which would have also given employees raises, a $10,000 signing bonus “and an effective job guarantee for the next two decades.”

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, writing for The Huffington Post proposed that it’s time unions understood that pensions aren’t sacred, and that workers in this country are willing to make some compromises to keep their jobs. But unions continue to paint private sector companies — our job creators — as the enemy:

Right to Work states were responsible for 72 percent of all net household job growth across the United States from June 2009 through September 2012.

“The entire assumption behind the union approach is that if only the rich paid more in taxes, our budget crisis would be solved and we could continue to fund the pensions that are the backbone of the union demands. I implore the union leaders to candidly address the issues and allow another point of view on their blogs. We have to stop the ‘business is the enemy’ attitude that now pervades America. We are headed towards national failure as we finger point and blame.”

States are discovering that if they want to create and retain jobs, unions aren’t the solution. According to the American Enterprise Institute, Right to Work states were responsible for 72 percent of all net household job growth across the United States from June 2009 through September 2012.

It’s time to have a candid discussion in this country about the best ways to create jobs. And if unions are willing to work in good faith with the private sector, maybe we can start creating more jobs — both union and non-union.

We’ve reached a critical point in this country when it comes to jobs, and to continue on our current path is pure folly. Unions must decide what is best for this nation: filling their coffers to support like-minded politicians and pay union leaders big salaries, or taking care of their members to create and maintain good-paying American jobs.

Right now, unions are making the wrong decision at their own peril.

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